Ravens OG Bradley Bozeman plans to take his game to the next level and win a title in 2020
The interior of the Baltimore Ravens offensive line is one of the biggest question marks for the Superbowl favorites heading into training camp later this month and the 2020 season in general. While they have several players with starting experience vying to regain and retain their top spots, there still might wind up being some reshuffling in order to find the best combination to play on the inside hips of their star bookend offensive tackles in All-Pro blindside protector Ronnie Stanley and 2019 Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
One of those candidates is offensive guard Bradley Bozeman who has risen from the ranks as a lowly late day three draft pick to full-time starter status. The former sixth-round pick out of Alabama was a solid back up as a rookie and even made a couple of starts, including a playoff game. In his sophomore season, he was the dark horse that emerged from training camp with the starting left guard position. He started all 16 games and the team’s lone playoff contest, improving more and more with the more experience he got along the way.
Bozeman helped pave the way for Baltimore’s revolutionary offense that shattered several single-season individual and team rushing records. Heading into his third season in the league and with the team, his main goals are to help the Ravens win a championship first and foremost and establish himself as one of the best players at his position in the league as well.
“Ultimately we want to win a championship,” said Bozeman on Facebook Live. “That’s the goal. That’s where we want to be at the end of this season. We’re going to go in and take it game by game and hopefully end up in a good situation in the end.”
“For me personally, I want to be a Pro Bowler,” said Bozeman. “I want to show that I am one of the best guards in the league. I think I had a strong season last year. Hopefully [I can] build on it this year.”
He’ll be competing to not only keep his starting spot at left guard, but he’ll also be in the mix for the starting center position as well according to General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh. Bozeman was a two-year starter at center, a team captain and an academic All-American for the Crimson Tide so a return to his natural position won’t be much of a challenge.
If returning starter Matt Skura suffers any setbacks in his rehab from season-ending knee surgery that he had late last year or if Patrick Mekari isn’t quite up to the task heading into his second season after admirably filling in for Skura down the stretch last year, Bozeman offers an experienced alternative at one of the most important yet underrated positions in the sport.
The main reason that the interior of the Ravens’ offensive line is in such a state of flux heading into this season is that they lost one of their pillars and arguably their best player this offseason when eight-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda decided to call it a career. His retirement not only left a void at the right guard position, but it left a leadership vacancy as well that will be nearly impossible to replace. There’s never going be another Yanda but Bozeman and company will have to rise to the occasion and carry on without him for the first time in many of their careers.
“Marshal left some huge shoes to fill,” said Bozeman. “I was very blessed to be able to play with him for two years and learn from him. He kind of took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. How to compete, how to be a competitor, how to be a pro.”
“We’re all going to have to step our game up to be able to fill those shoes so I think all across the board we’re all going to step up and be a bigger impact this year than we were last year.”
Bozeman believes that Yanda still had more years left in the tank and that it will take a collective effort from the entire unit to offset the loss of such a great player and leader. He also said that he will forever be grateful for the impact and guidance that future Hall of Famer had and imparted to him during the first two years of his career.
Both Yanda and Bozeman expressed that playing on last year’s 14-2 team that took the entire league by storm in the regular season in 2019 was the most fun that either of them has had in their entire football career. That’s saying a lot considering that Bozeman started on two National championship-winning teams while at Alabama and Yanda was a starter for the Ravens during their magical run to Superbowl XLVII (47) that ended in the only championship ring that he’ll ever own as a player now that he’s retired.
“It’s special,” said Bozeman of the 2019 Ravens. “I don’t think I’ve ever really been part of a team that was that jelled together. Every day there’s no one getting into fights, everyone is competing, everyone is wanting to go hard, everybody has the same mission in mind…You don’t really know how to describe it unless you’re apart of it. It’s just a special locker room.”
Bozeman will have an opportunity to not only carrying on the torch from his former mentor and teammate but if he continues to improve and embody his teachings, then he will not only establish himself as one of the best guards in the league and become a perianal Pro Bowler. He could help sustain the culture of winning, dominance, and near excellence that was established last season as the Ravens look to build off of that success and finish the year as the last team standing on the NFL’s ultimate mountain top for many years to come.